What is a CRM system?
Fundamentally, a CRM system allows you to manage the business relationships you have with your customers to help you grow your business.
In fact CRM goes far beyond customers, allowing you to focus on your organisation's relationships with all sorts of people – colleagues, suppliers and service users as well as customers.
How does it do this? At the most basic level, a CRM system provides a central place where you can store customer and prospect contact information, and share it with colleagues.
Once this is in place you can track the history of all your interactions you have with those customers: phone calls made, emails sent, meetings held, presentations delivered, enquiries received. Because tracking is everything.
With a CRM system in place, every question, every service request, every preference and every past contact detail about every customer is at your fingertips. And that means that every contact you have with your customers is always personal, relevant and up to date.
By understanding your customers better, cross-selling and up-selling opportunities become clear – giving you the chance to win new business from existing customers.
And as well as tracking contact histories, you can also add notes, schedule follow-ups and organise the next steps that you or your colleagues need to take. That means you need never miss an opportunity to close particular deals or grow customer accounts.
These traditional functions of a CRM system, then, might include:
- File and content sharing
- Sales forecasting
- Instant messaging between employees
- Email integration with Outlook and Gmail
- Dashboard-based analytics
But modern CRM platforms such as Salesforce go much further, integrating with marketing automation and customer service systems to provide a complete, cloud-based ecosystem for customer data.
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